I was in and out of airports when the bombings at the Boston Marathon took place, so I only heard snippets of it. Now that I’m home and have time to watch the news, I find myself deliberately avoiding it, both because of the horror of it all and because I can’t stand the immediate media feeding frenzy as rumors and half-truths rain down on us like confetti, each scrap of paper furiously turned into the preferred narrative. But while you react in anger, consider for a moment that others react the same way to similar events.
We are infuriated by such acts of violence. They seem incomprehensible to us and we look for easy answers, for people to blame and people to punish. We think and act as though a single act of horrific terror aimed at Americans is the most consequential event in the history of the world because, after all, Americans simply matter more than anyone else. But stop and think for a moment that these incidents, so rare and so shocking to us, are a matter of daily routine in many places — and that the bombs are stamped “made in the USA” and paid for by our tax dollars.
The rage that we feel and the desire for vengeance on those who perpetrated such evil is nearly a daily occurrence in Pakistan, for example. The bombs aren’t left in garbage cans, they are shot from drones that can’t even be seen, but the result is exactly the same. Innocent people die and those who love those people experience all the same emotions we do. Just as we crave revenge, so do they. Is it any wonder, then, that they seek it?
Put yourselves for a moment in the shoes of an Iranian in the 60s or 70s, livind under a brutal dictator that was put in power by a CIA coup that overthrew the only democratically elected leader that nation had ever had, all in the name of keeping oil prices low. Far more Iranians suffered torture and death under the Shah and his barbaric secret police force, SAVAK, than were killed or injured in Monday’s bombings, and it was done with American money and weapons. Is it really so surprising that they overthrew him and took the embassy hostages? Would we have done any less in retaliation if the tables were turned?
Try to imagine what it must have been like to live under Somoza, Duarte, Montt, Pinochet, Noriega, Hussein, Batista, Sukarno or any of the other madmen we put and kept in office throughout the 20th century. Try to imagine how you would feel and react if someone imposed such a dictatorship on the United States. And then try to imagine what life must be like for someone living in Pakistan or Yemen today, living out the horror of Monday’s bombing on a nearly daily basis. Imagine what life would be if you were a refugee from Iraq, your home destroyed and your life turned upside down, living in squalor in a camp and wondering how you will survive.
I don’t propose any solutions. I only know that this cycle of violence needs to stop and that all the “USA, USA, USA” chants in the world do not cover up the fact that we have inflicted far worse violence on people around the world than we suffered on Monday. An eye for an eye eventually leaves the whole world blind.